Music for the Royal Fireworks On 27th April, 1749, Handel conducted the first performance of his 'Music for the Royal Fireworks' in Green Park in London. The firework display was apparently not as successful as the music - the weather was rainy causing many misfires, and in the middle of the show the right hand side of the viewing pavilion caught fire. During the preparations the Duke of Montagu, Master-General of the Ordnance and officer responsible for the Royal Fireworks, argued against adding violins, cellos etc. to the orchestra. The duke made clear to Handel that King George II had a preference for only martial instruments - woodwind, brass, and percussion. Handel therefore had no choice but to omit the strings. In this period-instrument video the strings have been restored, and extra winds added to the orchestra. Prior to the original performance, the London Magazine reported:'The band of musick that is to perform at the fireworks in the green-park, is to consist of 40 trumpets, 20 French horns, 16 hautboys, 16 bassoons, 8 pair of kettle-drums, 12 side-drums, a proper number of flutes and fifes; with 100 cannon to go off singly at intervals, with the musick'. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNqJ8mED1VE
25 Brook Street Handel was born in 1685, in Halle, Germany. In 1712, after studying opera in Italy, he settled permanently in London, and in 1727 became a naturalized British subject residing at 25 Brook Street, Mayfair, London. His house is now a museum, and is also used for performances of baroque chamber music. Handel composed two sets of Concerti Grossi, a staple of the baroque chamber orchestra repertoire: Op 3 No. 2 - Largo - solo oboe and strings. Anthony Pleeth obbligato cello #1, and I am obbligato cello #2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhsJQ2FCW-k Op 6 No. 1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUDhxZKUvEg
Opera Handel composed the music for 42 musical dramas/operas between 1705 and 1741. The first to be performed in England was 'Rinaldo' - a story of love, war, and redemption, set at the time of the First Crusade (1096CE) - at the Haymarket theater in London in 1711, and he subsequently dominated the composition and production of opera in England until the 1750s. Aria from 'Rinaldo': Lascia ch'io pianga - let me weep" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UY9NVZwIsk Aria from 'Xerxes': Ombra mai fu - grateful for the shade of a Plane tree. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mn4kK04MrFQ Oratorio Opera-like musical dramas that were not staged, based on religious themes. The most famous one by Handel is Messiah. This is the final chorus from our 1982 recording - the first performance on period instruments since the 18thc. Handel: Messiah, HWV 56 / Pt. 3 - Amen There is a darker side to Handel's world. In 1720, Handel invested in the Royal African Company - Britain's official slave-trading company - which at that time was led by Handel's patron the Duke of Chandos. The 18thc. slave economy comprised not only the forced transportation of Africans to the Americas, but also the domestic consumption of sugar, tobacco, rice, and other commodities produced by slave labor; as well the business in sectors such as shipping, ship building, insurance, and luxury items. 'Music in the London Theatre from Purcell to Handel. Edited by Colin Timms and Bruce Wood. Cambridge University Press, 2017.
Next Week -
18thc. Music in England - 2